A recent column in the Metro section of The Washington Post barely caught anybody's attention. Marc Fisher, a writer I have no reason to suspect as a member of the Insensitive Conservatives Union (he's never at the meetings) or as an adviser to Larry Summers, wrote an interesting story about the trials and tribulations of Asian-American students at a local school.
These kids have pushy parents. They deal with the stereotype that they're smarter or bigger study-geeks than everybody else. They take SAT prep courses in 7th grade and attend Chinese language classes on Saturdays. Et cetera.
And then Fisher offers these intriguing 37 words: "Add the punishing quotas that Asian students face in the college admissions game - colleges don't admit to using quotas, but the numbers tell the story - and the result is pressure through every step of childhood."
Huh. Interesting. This confirms data from California and Texas that when racial preferences are lifted, whites don't gain much, but Asian admissions jump through the roof. At the University of Texas-Austin, when preferences were removed, Asian freshmen jumped to 18 percent in a state where Asians comprise only 3 percent of the population.
In other words, what is denied with Orwellian savoir-faire by defenders of the Diversity-Academia complex is just plain obvious to people who are not professionally or ideologically invested in denying the existence of the elephant in the corner: The diversity "racket" discriminates against some minorities for the benefit of other minorities.
At this point, most anti-quota tirades tend to follow fairly predictable lines about the merits of meritocracy, the "soft bigotry" of low expectations, etc. These are all important and worthy arguments. But I think the Asian-American example highlights a point that often gets lost: Diversity regimes would be unfair even if minority applicants were completely qualified.
Today, the debate over diversity is driven largely by the unavoidable fact that, on average, African-Americans and Hispanics are less academically qualified than whites and various other demographic groups. This was highlighted a few years ago during arguments over the University of Michigan Law School's quota system. Justice Antonin Scalia noted during oral arguments before the Supreme Court that the easiest way to increase diversity would be to lower the law school's standards. If diversity is "important enough to override the Constitution's prohibition of racial distribution, it seems to me it's important enough to override Michigan's desire to have a super-duper law school."